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Cindy Curry: Building a Warrior Network Against Breast Cancer

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Hair and makeup by Shani Overfelt @shanelisemua |

Warriors call upon their body armor to guard themselves from harm when on the battlefield. Leather and metal were used by many in ancient times and now scientifically designed fiber materials or ceramics can be employed for our modern-day protectors. But Kansas City, Missouri, native Cindy Curry donned a pink fur bra as a safeguard for herself and the many others who would follow her. In 2005, Cindy was diagnosed with breast cancer and after surgery, treatment and reconstruction, she showed off this bra as one of the first models for Bra Couture KC.

“The pink Alaskan Fur bra was the very first bra that was ever sold for Bra Couture KC in 2010, so it’s the bra that started it all. I still have access to it because Richard and Sabrina Korentager purchased it and have lent it to me again and again. So now I’m 62 years old and still modeling this bra. I’ll be doing it next year during the raffle,” she remarked. “I went from being a model, then to being the marketing director in the second year to being in a leadership role for a few years. I’ve always supported Bra Couture KC, and I’ve brought dozens of guests to the event. Being a part of this organization is a way for me and others to look out for those who don’t have a medical safety net.”

Bra Couture KC’s annual event is a unique and fun auction that showcases one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted bras modeled by breast cancer survivors to celebrate their triumph over cancer. The first Bra Couture KC was in 2010 with a goal of bringing in $20,000, but the event was so successful more than $90,000 was donated. In April 2023, $518,000 was raised and, in total, it’s more than $4 million, despite losing two years due to COVID-19. Bra Couture KC raises money for cancer patients in the Kansas City metro who can’t afford medication, transportation to treatment, prosthetics, wigs, surgical supplies, blankets, food, lymphedema garments and more. Cash vouchers can help to sustain an underinsured or uninsured family for up to two months for living expenses while the patient is in treatment. Serving men, women and children touched by all cancers, Bra Couture KC celebrates breast cancer survivors to raise funds for organizations that are aligned with its mission.

While Cindy hesitates to think of herself as a warrior, this 18-year cancer survivor is quick to point out those that she believes deserve recognition. Inside that group, she lists a diverse group of individuals, such as medical professionals, coworkers, family and friends—the ones who showed up to assist in her battle against cancer.

“People refer to cancer survivors as warriors, and, yes, you have to battle the disease and do what you’ve got to do. But you’re not the only one in battle. There are all the doctors and the nurses, oncology specialists and other medical professionals who are working for you. But you’ve also got your family, whether it’s your husband, your in-laws, whomever, and I had an abundance of friends and neighbors,” noted Cindy. “But I know that there are people who don’t have a large family. Maybe they’re a one-car family and their spouse can’t take off work to drive them to their appointments. Or maybe they can’t afford a wig. That’s where Bra Couture KC can give people a helping hand.”

Friends are also an important segment of the warriors’ network for Cindy. She shares that her pals came together for her first show to lend support and funding. “When they found out that I was included in Bra Couture KC, they came in force to support me,” she said. “My girlfriends got together and pooled their money to make sure I had the highest bid on the bra I was modeling. They have continually supported this organization during the hard times and the good times.”

While Bra Couture KC does not supply these things directly, the organization provides funding to the nonprofits that do. “It can be nutritional supplement programs and medical equipment and supplies, mastectomy supplies, transportation, wigs and comfort items. Things that just some people take for granted,” she listed. “It supports organizations that pay for the mammography screening for uninsured people. I feel like being a part of this organization is a way for me to look out for a lot of people. I want to assist people who don’t have the good luck of possessing that safety net of supporters and good insurance.”

Cindy is a carrier of the BRCA1, or breast cancer gene 1, which produces proteins that help repair damaged DNA. According to the National Cancer Institute, all of us have two copies of BRCA1 and BRCA2, another potentially harmful gene, one copy inherited from each parent. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are sometimes called tumor suppressor genes because when they have certain changes, called harmful, or pathogenic, variants, also known as mutations, cancer can develop. Cindy inherited this harmful variant that increased her risks of several cancers, most notably breast and ovarian cancer. The harmful variant in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can also lead to cancer appearing in younger people. Cindy discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam and immediately called her physician for an appointment, exam and potential treatment plan.

“So, I said, ‘Just tell me what to do next.’ That was really my attitude. I didn’t panic. I just asked, ‘What next?’ Many people told me that I needed to research everything before getting started. But I just wanted to move forward,” she remarked. “I’m a little unlike some people who really dive into the details. I felt more like, ‘Let’s go.’ It could have been to my detriment. But, it’s all turned out well so far.”

Her ability to accept the diagnosis and begin moving on to her treatment plan was a solid idea. The lumpectomy revealed that the tumor had spread quickly to her lymph nodes. “So it’s Stage 2 and a triple negative tumor, which, I’m told, is the type you don’t want to get,” she shared. “My understanding is the recurrence is much higher for that type of tumor.” Because she carried the triple negative BRCA1, she also underwent a hysterectomy before her bilateral double mastectomy, which was followed by vigorous rounds of chemo treatments.

Her children, Emma, now 26, and Patrick, 27, were in third and fourth grade when her cancer was diagnosed. Rather than keeping the news under wraps, Cindy wanted to share as much information as she thought they could emotionally handle to ensure they knew what was ahead for their mother and their family.

“I was on the front porch with them and I said, ‘I want to tell you something. I’ve got breast cancer. I know that if you hear the word cancer, it sounds scary. However, I did the smart thing and I did my preventative breast self-exam and found a lump. I went to the doctor that week to see what it was. They diagnosed it early, so that means it’s very treatable. We are people with insurance and the funds to have good doctors and a good team, and I’m a healthy person who has taken care of myself. So this is going to be okay, but before it’s okay, I’m going to lose my hair, because that’s what the medicine does, and it’s gonna make me sick.’ I told them the truth and they were prepared.” Genetic testing revealed that neither Patrick nor Emma carry the harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

While she will never be cured of her cancer, Cindy notes that her reports were positive after her treatment and that she no longer needs follow-up testing. But she has these words of wisdom to share, spoken by a true warrior.

“Do not be afraid of finding out that you have cancer. When you feel that lump in your breast, you need to get past the fear,” she said. “Go to the doctor; let them tell you because that saved my life. If I would have waited for my mammogram that was scheduled four months later, the way that that tumor was moving, who knows what could have happened?”

After a two-decade career at the Kansas City Star newspaper, Cindy has taken on the role of a life insurance agent at SelectQuote®, researching plans for individuals that will provide coverage when no other companies will take on the risk. In this role, she has assumed a warrior role for others when they have no one else in their corner. She finds it exceptionally gratifying as she helps individuals with limited insurance options. It seems to fall in line with her life journey as she repays the goodness she has received in her life.

“I have such gratitude for all of the support I’ve received. I’ve always appreciated my friends and my life. But that’s just magnified when you see who has your back when things are hard,” she noted. “I have found that when people are given a reason and the opportunity to be kind, they will do so. The number of people who reached out to me, who did things for our family, was inspiring. I’ll always have an appreciation for that, each and every one of them, whether they offered a prayer, held my hand or took my kids to a book fair or shopping for school. I have never forgotten them.”